Today’s News & Commentary — July 18, 2018
Amazon workers went on strike across Europe during Amazon Prime Day. The yearly shopping sale is the e-commerce giant’s busiest day of the year, usually netting the company more than $2 billion. On Monday, nearly 1,800 warehouse workers walked off site in Spain and Germany to protest low pay and poor benefits. Supporters worldwide organized boycotts in solidarity with striking workers. The average Amazon employee makes only $28,446 for working under harsh conditions: recent reports uncovered that Amazon even denies workers bathroom breaks and prohibits employees from talking to their co-workers. As workers went on strike this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was named the world’s richest man in modern history as his net worth topped $150 billion.
The fallout from the Janus decision continues, as anti-union campaigns urge public sector workers to pull dues from the unions that represent them. The latest battle is playing out in Washington State, where teachers are receiving mailers urging them to stop paying union dues. Meanwhile, the union is in the midst of lengthy negotiations to raise teacher pay. The fliers are being circulated by the Freedom Foundation, a Koch-funded anti-labor thinktank, according to local news reports. The Tacoma Education Association reports that, so far, Janus has had a limited impact on membership as teachers choose to stick with the union — but the fliers represent a sign of what’s to come as conservative groups pour money into campaigns pushing public sector workers to leave unions in the wake of Janus.
An Administrative Law Judge for the NLRB threw out a controversial proposed settlement between McDonald’s and the NLRB’s Trump-appointed general counsel yesterday, reports Bloomberg. The case alleges that McDonald’s fired franchise employees in retaliation for joining the Fight for $15 campaign. A key question at trial was whether McDonald’s was a “joint employer” of workers at franchises; a finding that McDonald’s is a joint employer would expand corporate liability for illegal treatment of workers at franchises. In March, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren accused the NLRB general counsel, Peter Robb, of “trying to railroad workers into terrible settlements,” for the very purpose of letting McDonald’s avoid a ruling on the joint employer issue.
The legal battle over a Seattle ordinance allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize continues. In 2015, Seattle adopted a first-of-its-kind ordinance requiring ridesharing companies to collectively bargain with drivers — which was quickly challenged by the Chamber of Commerce. As Ryan wrote in May, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the law could be challenged under federal antitrust law, putting the law on hold. In June, Seattle filed a petition for the case to be reheard en banc, and the Chamber of Commerce has been directed to respond.
York, Pennsylvania became the latest city to consider paid “safe days” legislation extending paid sick leave to domestic violence survivors. Paid safe days have rapidly gained popularity in recent years as a way to ensure that survivors have access to job-protected time leave to access medical care, seek orders of protection, find shelter, or for other urgent needs related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.